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Buphaya (ဗူးဘုရား)

Burmese. ‘Gourd Pagoda’. Name of a Buddhist stupa in Bagan (fig.), located on the east bank of the Irrawaddy River. It was built in the 3rd Century AD by King Pyusawhti. According to ancient chronicles, in the reign of its first monarch, King Thamoddarit, Bagan was ravaged by the Five Great Menaces, i.e. a large tiger, a huge flying squirrel, a giant wild boar, a big bird, and the extensive proliferation of the vines of a gourd plant, all of which King Pyusawhti quelled with a magic bow that he possessed (fig.). Hence, when he became King, Pyusawhti had pagodas built at each of the places where he had destroyed the Five Great Menaces, with the Buphaya pagoda, at the spot of the latter of the Five Great Menaces, built in the shape of a gourd (fig.), hence its name. Besides its bulbous dome, a design favoured by the Pyu, this pagoda's architectural style is considered an early form or prototype of other Bagan monuments, and is rather similar to the 10th Century Ngakywenadaung Pagoda (fig.) built by King Nyaung-u Sawrahan, who is also known as the so-called ‘Cucumber King’ or ‘Farmer King’ Taungthugyi Min, and of which the name means the ‘Earring of Ngakywe’. The Gourd Pagoda (fig.) originally stood allegedly in the city's centre, but erosion by the Irrawaddy River has over time eaten away large parts of the land, including the entire western part of the ancient city wall, and it now stands at the east bank of the river. The current Buphaya is a replacement of the original pagoda, which was destroyed in an earthquake in 1975, when it broke into pieces and fell into the Irrawaddy River. See also MAP.